Prejudice and Stereotypes an International Student Has To Deal With

prejudicessIt’s nice to visit a new place either as a tourist or as a student. You get the chance to experience new and exciting things that you haven’t had the chance to explore. Be it the culture, the food or the people, it can all be exciting for you. However, there are challenges that students face when they decide to move to another country for studies and I have taken the time to highlight them in this article.

 Your English Is Too Good, You Don’t Have an Accent

This usually comes as a shock to most people as they expect international students to know little English if any. Also, it’s expected that if they do know it, it should be accompanied by a heavy accent from their home region. This is not entirely true as most students spend a lot of time speaking English and with time, their local accent disappears and the proper English accent settles in. Some students take English right from elementary school and attend international schools for nearly half a decade, using English as their preferred language of communication.

 You look African! Are you African?

Nothing else, in terms of prejudice, is as common as this. International students get to be generalized by how they look. Most natives of the countries a student visits assume that the continents they come from are a single country. They assume Africa is one big country and so is Asia forgetting that they are continents. Africa has over 50 countries, this student could be coming from any of those or even from outside of the continent. Looking African or Asian doesn’t necessarily means that they come from those continents.

Do You Have Conservative Parents?

Just because someone is from another country that holds certain cultural practices doesn’t mean that they are entirely conservative and don’t embrace outside values. People absorb different things from others and from the information they consume. Parents shouldn’t be necessarily labeled as conservative, all parents want their children to succeed, and thus they can be strict. This is not an issue of being conservative.

Broken English Is Your Accent

This is not completely true. English may not be their first language so they might be having an issue while speaking the language. It’s not funny when someone makes fun of your accent. What many don’t realize is that they also would have a funny accent if they were to learn any foreign language. Thus, you cannot blame an international student for having an accent to a language that’s foreign to them.

Your Name Is Hard To Pronounce

Different people come from different places where they get their names from their native languages. These names are symbolic to their culture and way of life. They mean something to them and people need to appreciate that. They might be hard to pronounce but it doesn’t mean they are impossible to learn. Take the time to learn them instead of replacing them with new names that you understand or call them buddy or friend. It’s just rude and stereotyping. A name is someone’s identity and should be respected.

I Hear Asian Girls Are Submissive

I mean seriously? Whatever you see in movies is not always true. Not everyone from the same region is the same; some are leaders in their communities and people look up to them. Just because they are a female from another country, it doesn’t mean that they are oppressed by their people or they are submissive. Women all over the globe are taking leadership roles and receiving education and becoming sole providers for their families. Women are a force of nature and they cannot be tamed.

You Must Be a Math Genius

This kind of stereotyping is usually experienced by people of Asian origin. People assume that once you’re Asian, you’re genetically predisposed to be a math genius or geek by default. Some Asians are not good at math or science, some are good in sports or other things like acting and stand-up comedy, and that could be the reason that they have traveled abroad: to pursue their love for acting, comedy or baseball. And it’s true that some are math geniuses but not all!

Do You Eat Rice All Day?

No! No! No! Who eats rice all day? Do you eat hot dogs all day? International students have also heard about a balanced diet. They consume various types of food that are best known to them the same way you have an array of foods to choose from in your culture. It’s like saying Italian students eat pizza all day or Indian students are used to kebabs. This cannot be the case in any part of the world; people have a lot to consume, not just one dish.

Your Last Name Is Not Common Where You Come From

Of course, it’s not. There have over fifty other surnames from where I from. We’re not all related. We have different people from different families which may grow up and decide to adopt a new surname thus creating a different family altogether. So don’t expect to meet an international student that has the same name as the ones you have heard before. Different people, different names.

I Know The Language Too! Jambo!

No, you don’t know the language, you’ve heard about the language. Just because you meet an international student with a dialect you seem to be familiar with, it doesn’t mean that you now have a friend who understands you because they don’t. You know only one word which doesn’t qualify you to be an expert, plus it makes the other person feel uncomfortable.

You Are either Studying Medicine or Engineering

Not all international students from the same region study the same thing. Some are actually into  arts. You can find an Asian student in a literature or a history class. This shouldn’t surprise anyone as they, too, need such expertise in order to get ahead in life or to earn a decent living. You could also find an international student majoring in design and fashion as they, too, want to wear nice expensive clothes.

All You Guys Look the Same

Well, that’s because we are all relatively the same height, have dark hair, and almost the same complexion and yes, you can blame the weather for this. This has to be one of the most common stereotypes of international students. People assume that they all look the same and can’t seem to distinguish most of them.

Keep all of these points in mind and you will be able to deal with other people adequately and resolve all of the issues without turning them into a conflict. Tolerance and communication are the keys to building good relations with the others.

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